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Tampa’s Pete Alonso wins All-Star Home Run Derby

Alonso won the final round over Vlad Guerrero Jr., who was extended to three tiebreakers in the semifinal round.
Tampa's Pete Alonso was pretty fired up to win the All-Star Home Run Derby. [TONY DEJAK | Associated Press]
Tampa's Pete Alonso was pretty fired up to win the All-Star Home Run Derby. [TONY DEJAK | Associated Press]
Published Jul. 9, 2019
Updated Jul. 9, 2019

CLEVELAND — Tampa’s Pete Alonso was excited just for the opportunity to compete in the All-Star Home Run Derby as the latest accomplishment in his amazing rookie season with the Mets.

Then he went out and made the most of it, beating Toronto’s highly touted Vlad Guerrero Jr. for the title in the all-rookie final round was even more thrilling.

Alonso won the final round 23-22, benefiting from Guerrero being extended to three tiebreakers in his semifinal round matchup with Joc Pederson. Guerrero hit 91 for the day, Alonso needing only 57 for the title, which he celebrated, naturally, with a bat toss.

"Dealt with some adversity but we overcame, pretty much just survive and advance,'' Alonso said. "It was really special. .... It was fun. It was fun to be a part of. ... This is surreal.''

Related: RELATED: How Tampa's Pete Alonso is slugging his way into the hearts of Mets fans

The derby win wasn’t that surprising given how pretty much everything else has worked out for Alonso, 24, this season.

He made his major-league debut after earning a spot on the opening day roster. He showed he belonged by launching home runs at a rookie record pace, his 30 at the break tied for second overall in the majors. He earned selection to the NL All-Star team in addition to the derby invite.

Alonso, the No. 2 seed, got off to a good start, ousting Cleveland’s Carlos Santana in the first of the four-minute rounds, 14-13, with a long of 466 feet. He also got booed by the Progressive Field crowd rooting for the hometown hitter, and played to the crowd, raising his arms in triumph.

"I didn’t think I’d ever be booed at a home run derby to be honest with you,'' Alonso said.

Alonso then eliminated Atlanta’s Ronald Acuna Jr. in the second round, 20-19, with a long of 467. He celebrated that by slapping hands and bumping chests twice with his pitcher, cousin Derek Morgan.

Alonso earned the 30 second bonus time in each round for hitting two or more homers of 440 feet, but didn’t need it, which was a big help in conserving energy, which was a key piece of advice he got going into it.

"You’ve got to go in with kind of a killer instinct. It doesn’t matter how many you hit, you just need to have one more than the guy you’re facing,'' Alonso said. “I’m really happy that I didn’t have to swing a lot going into the extra rounds. .. I feel like conserving energy was huge.''

Guerrero, Toronto’s highly touted rookie, started his night by easily eliminating top-seeded Matt Chapman, a late replacement for Milwaukee’s Christian Yelich, 29-13.

Guerrero then survived an epic and somewhat enthralling battle with Los Angeles’ Pederson, that took three tiebreakers before he advanced 40-39.

“I got tired, but that’s not why I lost,'' Guerrero said in Spanish. "There are no excuses. He hit more home runs than me and he won.”

Alonso called the Guerrero-Pederson duel "elite hitting, some of the best rounds of BP I’ve ever watched. I think that was even better than the Josh Hamilton round (in 2008). ... That was a helluva show. I don’t know if we’re ever going to see that again. That was special.''

That set up the final, and allowed Alonso to add to his litany of accomplishments.

Prior to the derby he was asked what about his season stood out the most.

“I don't know,’’ he said. “I can’t pinpoint one thing because it's all just been so extremely special. For me I'm living a fantasy right now. I just feel blessed. I'm sure I sound like a broken record but it's true. I feel like the luckiest guy in the world. I'm just so happy to be here.’’

As cliché as that sounds, Alonso, 24, has a way to make you want to believe him.

Especially given all he had to do to get here, going undrafted out of Plant High and having to convince pro scouts what he did at the University of Florida would translate to success at a higher level.

How did he do it?

“Hard work, determination and constant belief in yourself. If you believe in something and you work for it, the sky's the limit,’’ he said.

“I still see myself as just a kid. To sit here justifies all the hard work, the preparation and all the hardships I had to go through in my career. I just feel really blessed to be here. I'm really happy that I've been able to perform at a high level I want to continue that.’’

And he knows how many people around Tampa, Gainesville and the minor leagues helped him since he was a second-round pick in 2016.

“I'm just really grateful I had this wonderful opportunity and I'm just looking to make all the people that gave me the thumbs up, the people that believed in me, I'm just looking to make those people proud and prove them right.’’

He had plenty of support on Monday, as both of his parents grew up in Ohio and more then 30 of them were in the stands, along with others from Tampa and elsewhere.

The derby comes with a $1 million prize, and while Alonso, making the major-league minimum of $555,000 joked he could use the money for his upcoming wedding, he had more benevolent plans. Noting that both his grandfathers did military service, he planned to donate 5 percent to the Wounded Warriors program and another 5 percent to the New York-based Tunnel to Towers Foundation that benefits first responders.

Alonso said his first home run derby came when he was playing

He also was sporting a large medallion around his neck he got from rapper Daddy Yankee.

"It’s sweet. It even spins,'' Alonso said. "So I didn’t know this was a thing, but I’m very happy that, I’m very willing to accept this. This is cool. I think I might play the game (Tuesday) with with this on.''

Contact Marc Topkin at Follow @TBTimes_Rays.


  1. In this August 2019 file photo, Tampa Bay Rays broadcaster Rich Hollenberg, left, leans in along with guest Dante Bichette, center, as fellow broadcaster Orestes Destrade, right, takes a selfie of them together during the Fox Sports Sun pregame show before the Tampa Bay Rays take on the Toronto Blue Jays at Tropicana Field. DIRK SHADD   |   Times [DIRK SHADD   |   TIMES  |  Tampa Bay Times]
  2. Charlotte Stone Crabs shortstop Wander Franco (1) practices his swing in the dugout during the game against Clearwater Threshers on Thursday, July 25, 2019 in Clearwater.  ALLIE GOULDING   |   Times
 [ALLIE GOULDING  |  Tampa Bay Times]
  3. Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Tyler Glasnow, shown earlier in camp, has been working on tweaking his delivery. [OCTAVIO JONES  |  Times]
  4. Wander Franco throws to first during the spring training game between the Detroit Tigers and the Tampa Bay Rays at Charlotte Sports Park on Thursday. [WILL VRAGOVIC  |  Tampa Bay Rays]
  5. Wander Franco taking ground balls before his first big-league spring game with the Tampa Bay Rays on Thursday, Feb. 27, 2020, with Willy Adames behind him. [MARC TOPKIN  |  Tampa Bay Times]
  6. Boston Red Sox relief pitcher Darwinzon Hernandez (63) throws after reporting for spring training baseball camp Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2020, in Fort Myers, Fla. (AP Photo/John Bazemore) [JOHN BAZEMORE  |  AP]
  7. Tim Tebow, playing then for the St. Lucie Mets in the Florida State League, has a laugh while answering questions during a news conference at Steinbrenner Field in Tampa on Aug. 10, 2017. [Tampa Bay Times]
  8. Jose Alvarado retires only one of the five batters he faces in his spring debut Wednesday. [MARC TOPKIN  |  Tampa Bay Times]
  9. Joan Steinbrenner threw out the first pitch to Yankees catcher Jorge Posada in 2008 when Legends Field was renamed in honor of her husband George. Mr. Steinbrenner passed away two years later, and Mrs. Steinbrenner died in 2018. [Times]
  10. Wander Franco  is slated to play in his first big-league exhibition games, coming off the bench on Thursday in Port Charlotte, then starting Friday in West Palm Beach against the Nationals. [ALLIE GOULDING  |  Tampa Bay Times]
  11. Philadelphia Phillies manager Joe Girardi watches pitchers in the bullpen during a spring training baseball workout Friday, Feb. 14, 2020, in Clearwater, Fla. [FRANK FRANKLIN II  |  AP]
  12. The Rays are hoping the rain holds off and they can play today in Port Charlotte. [MARC TOPKIN  |  Tampa Bay Times]